It’s a tough job, but SOMEBODY has to do it: enjoy a European barge cruise and then officially report on the unparalleled pleasures of sailing along timeless waterways while cosseted by luxurious amenities, gourmet cuisine, cultural immersion, and attentive service.
Introducing three of our talented Barge Lady Cruise Correspondents! Meet these intrepid adventurers comprised of a small but scrappy association of professional writers, and learn where they are eager to float next. We hope to welcome them back onboard soon, as their enticing articles, insightful blog posts, and gorgeous photographs bring the joys of the barging experience to vivacious and vivid life.
HANNAH HOWARD, WRITER AND CHEESE MAVEN
“I’m a writer and food expert who spent my formative years in New York eating, drinking, serving, bartending, cooking on a line, flipping giant wheels of cheese, and managing restaurants. My memoir, Feast: True Love in and Out of the Kitchen, debuted as Amazon’s #1 bestselling memoir in 2018. My new book Plenty: A Memoir of Food & Family is coming out in fall 2021.” Hannah’s debut Barge Lady cruise was aboard the Saint Louis in Gascony and Bordeaux, France, and she reported in detail about the vessel’s Captain and the onboard ambiance.
Hannah says, “I write about delicious things, teach food writing classes, and might just spend all day at a market shopping for fruits and veggies.”
Hannah’s next barge cruise: “I’d like to experience an entirely new region in France on the Canal du Nivernais in Northern Burgundy aboard the barge Randle. It’s not surprising that the Randle intrigues me for its gourmet experience; five dinners are taken on shore in an inspired variety of Michelin-starred restaurants to informal bistros. Bountiful breakfasts and light lunches are served onboard, and I also look forward to shopping for local cheeses and sampling regional wines at an outdoor food market.
Sightseeing is literate and lively, and includes a private tour of the Grottes d’Arcy-sur-Cure to see the astonishingly preserved Paleolithic cave paintings. A visit to the town of Auxerre, a stop at the Basilica at Vezelay, and, best of all, a hosted winetasting in the vineyards of Chablis are also on the itinerary. As a Barge Lady Cruise Correspondent, I am excited to explore this region of France on the Randle from the vantage point of her interior waterways.”
STEVE LELAND, CONTRIBUTING WRITER FOR PORTHOLE MAGAZINE
“As a former Cruise Director, I have been cruising the world for the past forty years. Bringing a new dimension to cruise journalism, I continue to spin the globe searching for off the grid cruise adventures and unplugged destinations to share with Porthole Cruise Magazine readers.” As one of our only “Barge Lads”, Steve has covered the Magna Carta in Great Britain and the Rosa in Bordeaux, France.
Steve says, “Small vessel cruising is the future of upscale travel. Whether it be river, canal, lake, or even ocean navigation, the small ship experience creates a sentiment of privilege, facilitating the ability to cater to personal wishes.”
Steve’s next barge cruise: “I always look forward to returning to Southern Burgundy in France! This time, I’d like to enjoy the Saroche on the Canal de Bourgogne, a barge known for its congenial owners and operators. Captain Jason’s knowledge about fine wines is evidenced by the quality of his floating wine cellar, while Chef Dawn produces refined French cuisine to match.
I’m especially looking forward to touring the 14th century Hospice de Beaune, an immaculately preserved Medieval hospital, as well as nabbing souvenir bottles of the famed mustard in Dijon’s cobblestoned ‘old town.’ After one of Chef Dawn’s multi-course dinners onboard, I’ll relax around the firepit with fellow guests, indulging in delicious digestifs while enjoying delightful conversation. I cannot wait to return to the many pleasures of small ship cruising and share my experience on the Saroche with Porthole readers.”
AVA ROXANNE STRITT, SPA TRAVEL GAL AND WELLNESS EXPERT
“I am the Spa Travel Gal, the founder of SpaTravelGal, turning your average spa day into a wellness adventure! You may have seen my spa and luxury articles published in print and online in, among others: USA Today, CBS News, Travelocity, Upscale Living, LA Travel Magazine, and Spa Inc.” Ava’s first (but nowhere near last) barging adventure as a Barge Lady Cruise Correspondent took her to Alsace-Lorraine, France on the barge La Nouvelle Etoile.
Ava says, “I’ve been called the most influential person in the world on spa travel and a top authority on luxury travel. In fact, my fans say I am responsible for transforming the idea of a regular spa day into a full wellness adventure!”
Ava’s next barge cruise: “As long as I can laze in a hot tub and sip Champagne, I’m happy! So it’s no surprise that my upcoming barge cruise should be on the Panache, a luxurious two-story vessel boasting an inviting deck and spacious spa pool, among many other desirable amenities. Over the the barging season, Panache cruises through multiple international routes; the lazy days of early summer sees her sailing along the canals and rivers of France’s sun-drenched Champagne region.
This elegant and emerging cruise route offers a multitude of cultural connections, including Champagne tastings in the charming city of Epernay, as well as a tour of Reims Cathedral to see where generations of French royalty were crowned. Then it’s back to the Panache to sip flutes of sparkling wine before dinner and jumping back in the hot tub for a starlit nightcap, bien sûr! Perfect for me to experience…to remember…and then to review as a petite luxury cruise with a little bit of ‘spa’ thrown in.”
Special thanks to Barge Lady Ellen, who contributed to this blog post.